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Save Time: Use AI To Break Through Roadblocks

You know those moments when a project seems to be running smoothly? Everyone has what they need, and—overall—you’re on a pretty good track toward the deadline?

And you know how, right when you’re in that beautiful moment…someone points out a critical and time-sensitive roadblock? Sure, you’re grateful they pointed it out, but it also makes you want to punch a brick wall? Yeah… that happens. A lot.

In those moments, project leaders have to build a response to pause, ponder, and pivot. Pronto!

One thing we’ve been using to help us pivot quickly is generative AI tools. When used strategically, they have helped us lead projects more efficiently and effectively while maintaining personal responsibility in the project.

Here’s a recent example:

I was working with a talented, skilled, and very stretched team that was in the final week of a Salesforce implementation. The day before a key milestone, one person said “If we are doing the data load tomorrow, we should let the users know so they can look for any anomalies.”

She had a valid point, but the problem was: the person who would ideally do that that was out all day at a conference. There was no guarantee we could get a hold of him—and, I’m not usually one to bug people on their days out—but this was time sensitive and important enough to warrant getting his attention.

I had three options when reaching out to the director.

Option A: The easy way

I could email or Slack the director:

“Hey, can you send an email to the SF power users to let them know about tomorrow’s data load?”

Then, wait for him to write it and send it. Hopefully.

Sure, that doesn’t take me much time, and technically I’ve done my job, but have I? Really?

This option puts a load on the director. And if my goal is to move this project forward, then I’d be taking a big risk. In effect, I’d be asking him to shift mental gears, feverishly write this email without all the context, and send it after a long day at a conference. It doesn’t guarantee good quality communication, and there’s a high probability he might not even get to it.

Option B: The hard way

I could spend 30 minutes drafting the email and then say:

“Hey, can you send this email, which I’ve drafted for you, to the SF power users tonight to let them know about tomorrow’s data load?”

Then: Wait for him to send it.

This option is definitely better for two reasons:

  1. I’m taking responsibility for driving the project, and

  2. the probability of the email going out is much higher.

But the down side is: I’ve spent 30 minutes crafting a very intentional, readable, and understandable email, when I have other priorities pulling at my attention.

Option C: The strategic way

I could spend two minutes giving an AI tool a specific prompt, spend five minutes editing the result, then say:

“Hey, can you send this email, which I’ve drafted for you, to the SF power users tonight to let them know about tomorrow’s data load?”

Guess which option I chose? 🙂

I’m a bit of a control freak and don’t generally like computers doing certain things for me. (I don’t even use cruise control in my car!) But using AI in this way—providing a rough draft to build upon—has helped us work more efficiently and still ensure that our interactions are personal and customized to each project team’s needs.

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